Written by the HME Team
According to the Black Dog Institute, a staggering 1 in 6 people working today in Australia will be affected by mental illness and depression caused or exacerbated by their jobs. For anyone in a managerial role, this means that it is very likely they will supervise an employee with a workplace-related illness. This is a broader issue for businesses as well, with stress-related conditions such as anxiety and depression considered to be one of the leading causes of low productivity, poor attendance at work, health implications and low morale.
There are known factors that can contribute to the development of or even worsen existing anxiety, stress, depression and workplace illness. These so-called “red flags” should be identified and monitored by managers and by HR to ensure they are either being minimised or managed. They include roles that are traditionally seen as high-pressured but also lack autonomy. In this case, employees may feel they have a great deal of responsibility without normal levels of decision-making or control.
Other danger factors can include:
- Low job security combined with pressure to perform and a lack of appropriate resources or learning opportunities. An increased workload with long working hours can particularly take a toll on employees if the rewards or recognition is not in proportion to the effort exerted.
- Poor interpersonal relationships with colleagues and management. This type of daily or ongoing stress can be emotionally debilitating, especially if there is workplace bullying involved.
- There is little recognition or understanding of the concept of work/life balance in the workplace.
- Workplaces where mental illness and depression are stigmatised in the workplace or management is not seen to take such issues seriously.
- The establishment of an organisational-wide committee that gives employees genuine input into workplace issues such as working hours and rewards.
- Strategies for workplace health and fitness promotion, with a focus on both physical and mental health. Some workplaces may even wish to think about introducing relaxation or meditation classes.
- Workplace counselling should be promoted and be on offer to all employees.